Family of man shot by police requests release of body-worn camera footage

The family of an Anchorage man shot and killed by police officers last week has joined civil rights advocates pushing for authorities to release body-worn camera footage of his death.

Kristopher Kody Handy, 34, was fatally shot by multiple police officers just after 2:30 a.m. last Monday outside the West Anchorage apartment he shared with his fiancee and several young children. His fiancee has said she asked a neighbor to call 911.

The shooting was the first since Anchorage police officers began wearing the devices this year, more than two years later than officials first said the force would be outfitted. The department has refused to release body camera footage of the incident, citing an ongoing investigation, a position officials repeated this week.

But scores of people, including Handy’s brother, have viewed security camera footage of the shooting from a nearby apartment that was posted online last week. The images in the video appear to conflict with some of the police department’s initial statements about the incident.

On Friday, the Handy family requested the release of unedited body-camera footage of the shooting at no cost in emails to Police Chief Designee Bianca Cross, Mayor Dave Bronson and Suzanne LaFrance, the apparent winner of a mayoral runoff election.

Department policy allows the chief to release footage of police shootings at any time, though Cross has said this footage will not be proactively released. The police chief is appointed by the mayor.

The family wants the footage released to show transparency and rebuild trust with the community, according to the emails provided with the family’s permission by victim advocate Cynthia Gachupin.


Travis Handy, Kristopher Handy’s brother, said Monday that he’s watched the security camera footage “about a hundred times” and said it appears to conflict with the initial description from police that his brother “raised a long gun” toward officers.

The video doesn’t clearly show whether Handy raised the gun or not.

Cross called Handy and Gachupin on Monday and reiterated the decision not to release the footage prior to the end of the investigation, Gachupin said. The chief also said she could not provide a timeline about when it might be released, she said.

Police spokeswoman Renee Oistad, in an email Monday, said the family was told “we would allow the investigation to be complete and thorough before we could consider releasing the footage.” The family was told the department could not provide a timeline “due to all the moving parts of this investigation, but this case is a priority for us,” Oistad said.

All police shootings are reviewed by the state Office of Special Prosecutions to determine if the use of force was justified. Anchorage police also conduct an internal investigation to determine if the officers violated policy.

There is no set timeline for how long the investigations take to complete.

The Alaska Black Caucus, which last year sued the municipality over police body camera delays, is also pressing for the immediate release the video of the shooting.

Rich Curtner, co-chair of the Alaska Black Caucus’s justice committee, said he wants to see the department release the footage this week. Generally, he said, the group wants the department to adopt a policy requiring any body-camera video to be released within 10 days of a police-involved shooting.

“The truth of the matter is going to be in the body cam footage and the public has a right to see that,” he said.

The police department last week released a statement from Cross responding to community concerns about potential discrepancies between the home surveillance footage and initial department reports.

“It is easy to believe that video tells the entire story however that assumption is untrue,” the statement said. “It’s important to remember that video does not capture many details to include what happened before the video was activated, what happened after the video was terminated, and what happened outside the view of the camera. It also does not capture the human element of those involved to include their perception, what they see, what they hear, and what they know.”

[Previous coverage: When Alaska police use deadly force, who holds them accountable?]

Kristopher Handy is the second person to die in a shooting involving Anchorage police in less than a year.

Police in July shot and killed a 34-year-old man who they said was holding a rifle next to an SUV pulled over on the South Birchwood exit ramp of the Glenn Highway. Officers were not yet equipped with body cameras at the time of that shooting.

Alaska State Troopers began wearing body cameras last year. At least one fatal shooting was captured by the cameras since then, but the department has not released footage of it. State policy also allows for officials to release footage of police shootings prior to the completion of an investigation.

On average, police in America shoot and kill more than 1,000 people each year, according to a Washington Post database.

The Handy family is planning to march from the intersection of Tenth Avenue and L Street on Saturday at 2 p.m. to police headquarters.

• • •

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at